Sorry to see that Ealing are discussing dramatic cuts from the current £2.2m down to, and I can’t believe I’m reading this right but I’ve checked , £566k in 2022. My goodness. Hopefully, the final cut will be better than the libraryageddon that those figures imply. On the other end of the scale, the Reading Agency have been awarded a handsome £120k to evaluate the Summer Reading Challenge. The SRC is the most successful national promotion that public libraries do, with by far the most impact, so that’s money well spent if it helps safeguard it.

Well done to the Edge Conference in Edinburgh which is now in its tenth year. It’s an excellent, compact but beautifully formed, couple of days that I enjoyed going to a few years back … and it has a very strong set of international speakers that you may not see anywhere else so it’s worth a look. Lastly, in my excited thanking everyone for my BEM last post,, I missed mentioning Judith Robinson from Kirklees Libraries, who received a British Empire Medal herself for services to public libraries. You do, of course, rock, Judith.


National news

  • Army of 50,000 volunteers are keeping libraries open after £300m cuts take toll – Express. Myself and Laura Swaffield of the Library Campaign quoted on reports of cuts.
  • Decline in number of new memberships at libraries in the north and north-east – Press and Journal. “The number of new library memberships issued in the north-east, [Scotland], Highlands and Islands is reducing, leading to a call for more people to support the beloved community service.
  • Flying in the face of high street trends, independent bookshops are now on the rise – Canary. “While prospects are up for independent bookshops, libraries are facing a tougher time … Latest figures show that 500 of the 3,800 public libraries open rely on volunteers. This has resulted from years of austerity and local council budget cuts. The newest figures on independent bookshops show the public wants to support local community reading efforts. And a government analysis on library users even shows “over one quarter of all library services… have shown an increase in use”. But their closure shows truly universal access to books is in danger. While growing numbers of independent bookshops may be something hopeful, public libraries are no less essential to the vitality of a community.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on levels of social mobility of access to public libraries.” Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP, Slough – They Work For You.

  • Library fines scrapped in Halton in bid to boost users – BBC. “”We hope we will see people returning books even if they are slightly late but returning them, knowing that they’re not going to get shouted at and they can carry on taking more books out.” … “Trafford Borough Council was the first authority in the UK to scrap charges [they weren’t – Ed.] for late returns in April 2018. Since then, the authority said 7,000 additional items have been borrowed and there has been a 4% rise in people joining compared to the previous year.”
  • The Reading Agency receives £120,000 to evaluate Summer Reading Challenge – BookSeller. “The charity will, in partnership with the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) and Libraries Connected, look at the Challenge’s impact on the “summer slide”, a term that describes how children’s learning progress can stagnate or reverse over the summer. It will also examine the role a public-library based reading activity can have on building better engagement with reading at home or at school.” … “The Reading Agency will use standardised testing to measure the reading comprehension and confidence of pupils from 20 schools across the country, including some from deprived areas”

“EDGE2019 will focus on the changing shape of libraries and on how they contribute to national and local outcomes for citizens and communities, delivering on key government and local authority ambitions to support digital inclusion, promote equality, reduce social isolation and play a key role in supporting attainment. Our speakers this year will inform us how to…. Transform the way we are seen within our communities, the support the library gives to self-care and wellbeing and how libraries can and will play a huge part in the digital revolution already under way” The Edge Conference, Edinburgh 28 February and 1 March.

  • Scribe donates 1,000 of Fried’s book to mark Holocaust – BookSeller. “Scribe is donating 1,000 copies of the new title Questions I Am Asked About The Holocaust by Hédi Fried to UK schools and libraries in honour of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th.” … “Teaching notes and lesson plans for the book are also available, suitable for readers from Key Stage 3 upwards. To request free copies of Questions I Am Asked About The Holocaust for your library or school,  contact sarah@scribepub.co.uk. “
  • Volunteers left to stack bookshelves as hundreds of libraries are closed – Times, behind partial paywall. “More than £300 million has been wiped from library budgets since the turn of the decade. Councils have shut 700 libraries and book-lending services since 2010, with the pace of closures accelerating last year when budgets were slashed by £30 million, forcing 127 to close. The figures, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, show that cuts have been most severely felt by librarians, with more than 1,500 losing their jobs over the past two years. The wage bill for libraries has shrunk almost in half since 2010. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, which conducts an annual survey of libraries, says that 50,000 volunteers had to put in almost 1.8 million hours last year to keep the service going … “

Axiell Selflib

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – Central Library could be reopened seven days a week – Bristol Live. “Bristol’s Central Library could be opening seven days a week. The library in Deanery Road has been closed on Wednesdays since April 2016. But now Bristol City Council is looking at whether to reopen the library seven days a week. However, the council has warned that an increase in opening hours would be funded by a reorganisation of staff and management in the Library Central Services team.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Is the £1 an hour computer charge making less people visit Cambridgeshire libraries? – Cambs Times. “Figures show the number of people visiting libraries since the charge was imposed is down by 11.3 per cent.” …. ““We are closely monitoring the situation and actively promoting the first free half hour for all library users as well as the free computer use for all children and young people up to and including 16 year olds and people accessing government sites as well as those accessing universal credit.” … “Overall usage of computers is down 50 per cent but the numbers using them for longer has dropped by 75 per cent since the £1 an hour charge was introduced.”
  • Ealing – A report proposing changes to neighbourhood services including Ealing’s libraries and children’s centre – Ealing Council. ” The total grant Ealing receives has been reduced by £143.7m over the last decade, the equivalent of a 64% funding reduction, and greater than the London and national average. To operate within budget in future years, the council must deliver savings of £57m over the next three fiscal years.” … “The resulting proposal is to continue to directly deliver 6 libraries in key town centres and neighbourhoods of higher deprivation. All would have revised opening hours based on usage. Further the council will seek to work with the community to identify partners for community managed library provision at the 7 sites not prioritised for direct council delivery
  • Essex – Prettygate library raid gets children talking about their love of books – Gazette News. “A passionate crowd maxed out their lending allowance at Prettygate Library on Saturday. The group urged others to not only sign a petition but to also make their own voices heard in a consultation on the plans, being put forward by Essex County Council.”
    • ‘Library feedback must also be shared in other ways’ – Gazette News. “Rosalind Scott, one of the campaign leaders for Brightlingsea Library, said it was fantastic news so many people were getting involved with Essex County Council’s online consultation. She said: “I’m absolutely delighted, the online petitions and library raids we have organised were all to make people aware of the county council’s consultation.”
  • Sheffield – Book lovers turn over new leaf at Sheffield library and garden – Star. Broomhill volunteer library: “The library recently received a grant of almost £8,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to develop plans for the heritage garden.Proposals include a new extension which would be created to the right of the building. There will be discussions about the best place for a main entrance and a staircase and lift will provide access to all floors.”
  • Wirral – Pip Blom to perform at Birkenhead Library – Wirral Globe. “As part of Independent Venue Week, Pip Blom will perform at the Library on Sunday, February 3 in collaboration with Get it Loud in Libraries, “